1890 - Wounded Knee

Burying the dead in mass graves at Wounded Knee

        Word spread quickly that Sitting Bull had been killed.  Hearing this news prompted another Sioux chief, Big Foot, to move his small band to a more protected and remote area on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.  Army troops that had been given orders to put an end to the Ghost Dance among the plains tribes, were on patrol in the area when Big Foot's band began its march.

Wounded Knee Masacre

 Members of the 7th Cavalry attacked Big Foot's band of Sioux ghost dancers in retaliation for Sitting Bull's humiliating defeat of George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, fourteen years earlier.  At Wounded Knee, the soldiers used four semi-automatic Hotchkiss guns to massacre an encampment of mostly women, children, and old people. It would be regarded as the last 'battle' in the 19th century Indian Wars.  Here, one of the victims lay frozen in death's haunting repose on the battlefield.

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         Big Foot, who was sick with pneumonia, flew a white flag of peace from his wagon, and readily surrendered when his band encountered the mounted troops.   The weather was bitterly cold.  He agreed to have his warrior surrender as well before traveling on, and when the troops arrived in the morning to collect weapons from the warriors, a gun discharged during an altercation and 500 troops opened indiscriminate fire with four howitzers and rifles into the center of the encampment, which was mostly women, children, and old people.  One hundred and forty-six defenseless Indians were killed, and another fifty-one were seriously wounded.   Among them was a young boy who would become famous as a spiritual leader named Black Elk.

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         This was the last 'Indian battle' of the Indian Wars on the Plains.